PCT_A_35_3_ Quality Management Systems for PCT International

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                                                                     PCT/A/35/3

WIPO                                                                 ORIGINAL: English
                                                                     DATE: June 30, 2006

WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION
                                          GENEVA


               INTERNATIONAL PATENT COOPERATION UNION
                             (PCT UNION)


                                      ASSEMBLY

                 Thirty-Fifth (20th Extraordinary) Session
                Geneva, September 25 to October 3, 2006



                       QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR
                        PCT INTERNATIONAL AUTHORITIES


                      Document prepared by the International Bureau


SUMMARY

1.    Following the experience of two years of reporting on their quality management
systems, the Meeting of International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authorities
Under the PCT (―the Meeting‖) agreed that a more consistent approach to the reports was
necessary in order for Authorities to make effective use of the information contained in them,
and accordingly adopted templates for reporting by all Authorities. Noting that insufficient
time remained for the Authorities to prepare reports using the new templates and consider the
contents properly so that the Meeting could present an annual progress report to the Assembly
for consideration at its present session, the Meeting agreed that reports by all Authorities
using the new templates should be established by the end of 2006 and that these should be the
basis of a report to be submitted to the Assembly for consideration in 2007.

BACKGROUND

2.    At its 31st (18th extraordinary) session, held in September–October 2002, the Assembly
approved a proposal by the United Kingdom that a common quality framework be developed
for International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authorities (see paragraphs 52 to 65
of document PCT/A/31/10). Following consultations in a specially formed task force and in
the Working Group on Reform of the PCT (see paragraphs 72 to 81 of document
PCT/R/WG/4/14), a number of basic requirements for quality management systems
                                         PCT/A/35/3
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(―quality framework‖) were agreed, which were subsequently included as Chapter 21 of the
PCT International Search and Preliminary Examination Guidelines (―the Guidelines‖—
document PCT/GL/ISPE/1).

3.    The quality framework adopted requires annual reports to be made by each of the
Authorities to the Meeting, which in turn is required to adopt and submit a general annual
report to the Assembly. In accordance with paragraphs 21.17 and 21.18 of the Guidelines,
each Authority submitted an initial report in 2004 describing what it had done to implement a
quality management system, based on the broad requirements set out in the quality
framework, and followed this up in 2005 with a report identifying the lessons learned and
actions taken since the initial report. General overviews of these reports and related actions
taken by the Meeting of International Authorities were submitted to the Assembly in 2004 and
2005 (see documents PCT/A/33/6 and PCT/A/34/4).

DEVELOPMENT OF TEMPLATES FOR QUALITY REPORTING

4.    At the 11th session of the Meeting, held in February 2005, Authorities considered how
the reports could be made more useful. It was suggested that it would be desirable to have a
more uniform approach to the preparation of reports and that it would be useful if a template
and/or questionnaire could be developed for use, if they wished, by all Authorities (see
paragraph 71 of document PCT/MIA/11/14). As a consequence, draft templates were
prepared by the European Patent Office in consultation with the other Authorities (see
documents PCT/MIA/12/8 Add.1 and PCT/MIA/13/3).

5.    At its 13th session, held in May 2006, based on the preparatory work carried out by the
European Patent Office, the Meeting adopted templates for initial (complete) reports and for
annual supplementary (updating) reports by all Authorities (see Annexes II and III of
document PCT/MIA/13/8). In order for these templates to be of greatest use, it was
considered necessary for the next reports by all Authorities to be based on the new template
for complete reports. The arrangements agreed are set out in paragraphs 20 to 22 of the report
of the session (document PCT/MIA/13/8) as follows:

     ―20. The Meeting adopted the templates reproduced in Annexes II and III of
     [document PCT/MIA/13/8] for use by Authorities in preparing reports under paragraphs
     21.17 and 21.18 of the Guidelines, respectively.

     ―21. The Meeting agreed that the next report by all Authorities should be a complete
     report under paragraph 21.17 of the Guidelines. Since it would be impractical for
     Authorities to prepare complete reports in time for the Meeting to discuss them and
     present a progress report to the PCT Assembly in September 2006, it was agreed that
     the next reports to be based on the template reproduced in Annex II of this report should
     be submitted by the end of 2006.

     ―22. The Meeting also agreed that, to avoid difficulties in understanding a series of
     updating reports under paragraph 21.18 of the Guidelines, Authorities should in future
     present a new complete report under paragraph 21.17 every five years.‖
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6.    The Meeting also noted a glossary of terms and a checklist (see Annexes IV and V of
document PCT/MIA/13/3), which had been prepared by the European Patent Office to assist
the process of assessment, reporting, understanding and consequent improvement of quality
systems. The checklist could be used by Authorities for internal purposes to help them
identify whether all the requirements of the quality framework had been met and reported on.
The glossary of terms was recommended so as to encourage Authorities to report their
systems using common language which would be understood in the same way by all readers.
The definitions were mainly based on the meanings of terms according to ISO 9000
terminology, though it was emphasized that this was not intended to mean that Authorities
should necessarily be using ISO 9000 methodology.

                                              7.   The Assembly is invited to note the
                                              contents of this document.


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